These are uncertain times, not just because of seemingly uncontrollable viruses or complete lock outs of entire countries. These times are special as they are challenging and disruptive as nobody could have ever imagined. Everything has multiple perspectives and people are not yet ready or trained to spot the right angle: overwhelming and overcoming.
Theory and Practice clash with the sometimes crude reality of our world and its rather unpredictable path. Dueck (2017)
Pretty much all companies, as well as providers of higher education are shut down at the moment. Work in the office and physical lessons have been cancelled and are, where possible, assured and provided via digital technology. There are multiple platforms, applications and group communication tools for an even bigger amount of different expectations, uses, wanted and finally achieved outcomes. The approach to this “new technology” has been investigated differently on multiple levels across Europe for some time now:
- There are entire countries or big corporations, which deliver widespread online tutoring or smart working possibilities, while utilising the remaining face-to-face time for the elaboration of and working on social and ethical skills. This often happens as an integral part of a long term political, governmental or managerial strategy.
- Universities, as well as entrepreneurially oriented companies for their in-house training programmes, are more and more opening access to online education, lectures and interactions with renowned professors, managers or business owners to the entire world. For free. Their commercial business model is profoundly shifting from turnover directly linked to delivery of hard knowledge, to the unimaginable value of transmission of core and soft skills, experience and, why not, the lifelong membership to an exclusive network.
- Everyday great tutors, managers and consultants are trying their best to persuade and engage children, teenagers, students or adults to create their very personal and hopefully uninhibited relation of technology and learning. These educators are doing an even greater job, where the system they are working in is not facilitating such ideas or concepts.
Digital Minimalism, a solution?
Principle 1: Clutter is costlyCompanies and schools need to recognise that cluttering their space or time and staff’s attention with to many devices, apps, and notifications may work in the beginning, but will be slowing everything down mid- or long-term. On the long run and with no motivated structure in place this may also lead to an overall negative cost that can swamp the small benefits that each individual technology item may provide in isolation.
Principle 2: Optimisation is importantThey need to understand that deciding a particular technology supports something they value is only a small first step. Companies and schools will need to necessarily think and carefully plan about how to introduce and use technology, in order to truly extract its full potential benefit. These benefits may be opposite for different branches or levels of management within the same organisation. Solutions can only be found through a means to an end approach. The decision makers therefore need to be absolutely clear what these ends actually are, how much they are valued and finally, where they are situated in the company's overall mission.
Principle 3: Intentionality is satisfyingIt becomes clear that approaching decisions about technology is better done with unequivocal intention, as it can be more important than the impact of the actual decisions themselves. Members of staff or faculty will derive significant satisfaction from a general, but felt company’s or school’s commitment to being more intentional about how they enhance with new technologies. This source of satisfaction is independent of specific decisions that a company or school may take and grows in the distant future.
Minimalist screening rules
The Minimalist Technology Screen:To allow an optional technology to be introduced into a company or school (CoS), it must:
- Serve something CoS deeply values (offering some benefit is not enough).
- Be the best way to use technology to serve this value (if it is not, replace it with something better).
- Have a role in CoS’ activities that is constrained with a standard operating procedure that specifies when and how members of staff use it.
References: Dueck, G., (2017). Bildung der Zukunft oder Kopfreform?. Teleakademie, SWR Fernsehen. Kelly, K., (2010). What Technology Wants. Viking Press. Newport, C., (2019). Digital Minimalism: On living better with less technology. Penguin Business. Wu, T., (2017). The Attention Merchants: the epic struggle to get inside our heads. London: Atlantic Books. James, W., (1890). The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1. New York: Henry Holt and Co.